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On-work or off-work relationship? An engagement model of how and when leader–member exchange and leader–member guanxi promote voice behavior

Xiaoling Song (Business School, Beijing Language and Culture University, Beijing, China)
Wen Wu (Beijing Jiaotong University, Beijing, China)
Shengyue Hao (Beijing Jiaotong University, Beijing, China)
Xiaohua Lu (Department of Organization and Human Resource, Renmin University of China, Beijing, China)
Yihua Zhang (Department of Economics, University of California Davis, Davis, California, USA)
Yuhuan Liu (Southwest Jiaotong University, Chengdu, China)

Chinese Management Studies

ISSN: 1750-614X

Article publication date: 7 August 2017



Drawing on engagement theory, this study aims to examine how leadermember relationships, including on-work relationship (leadermember exchange [LMX]) and off-work relationship (leadermember guanxi [LMG]), influence employees’ promotive and prohibitive voice. Furthermore, the study uses procedural justice as the moderator to distinguish the effects of LMG and LMX on employees’ psychological states and voice through a mediated moderation model.


The authors use a sample from a private and local company in Southern China to test their theoretical model.


The study finds that both LMG and LMX have positive effects on employees’ voice behavior through employees’ psychological states (psychological meaningfulness and psychological safety).

Research limitations/implications

In a Chinese context, leaders have a more direct and powerful influence on employees than their counterparts in the Western society. Thus, the findings of LMX and LMG may not be generalizable to a Western context. A possible extension is to examine and compare the effects of social context (e.g., off-work leadermember relationship) on voice between the East and the West.

Practical implications

One important implication is that off-work relationship should be used by managers to encourage employee voice.


This study enriches the antecedents of voice with a new dimension of leadermember relationship, namely, LMG.



The authors would like to thank Professor Cherrie Zhu and the reviewer’s insightful comments. The first two authors equally contributed to this paper. For questions about this paper, contact corresponding authors: Wen Wu (, Shengyue Hao or Xiaohua Lu, who is also an associate professor, Beijing Jiaotong University.


Song, X., Wu, W., Hao, S., Lu, X., Zhang, Y. and Liu, Y. (2017), "On-work or off-work relationship? An engagement model of how and when leader–member exchange and leader–member guanxi promote voice behavior", Chinese Management Studies, Vol. 11 No. 3, pp. 441-462.



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